Surviving Christmas

Being that there seems to be a universal, prepackaged hatred of Ben Affleck going into this one, it’s fair to say it never really stood a chance at success. It doesn’t help that the movie is actually quite bad. Affleck plays an eccentric millionaire who, due to loneliness, hires a family to pretend he’s part of their clan during the holidays. The premise is an uncomfortable one at best, and an uninspired performance by James Gandolfini as the family patriarch and Affleck’s over-the-top mugging don’t help matters much. Christina Applegate is just OK as the love interest, while Catherine O’Hara delivers perhaps the film’s best performance as the under-appreciated mom. The jokes are stale (snowball fights, computer porn) and the film’s too ridiculous to warrant an emotional investment in the character plights. Affleck can be funny, but he’s not funny this time, and Gandolfini comes off as a guy who hated making the movie. By my count, Affleck’s made six clunkers in a row, and I’m one of the few that dug him in The Sum of All Fears. If you disliked that one, make that seven clunkers in a row.

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